Driving Tips

National Driving Academy blog covers items related to safe driving relevant to learner drivers and their families.

How to use your mobile phone legally (and safely) whilst driving in the ACT

Caitlin Kerr - Thursday, August 18, 2016
In a recent survey by carsales.com.au, it was revealed that Canberra drivers are the worst state/territory in the country for texting while driving.  Taking your eyes off the road even for two seconds not only doubles your risk of having a crash but could also earn you a $416 fine and three demerit points.  

At present, both ACT provisional and full licence holders are able to use a mobile phone for its navigational apps, as well as make or receive a phone call (relying heavily on the voice command features of these apps) under the condition the phone is securely mounted to the car.  Drivers may also touch the phone while it is mounted, to assist in the operation of these tasks only.  The phone must not be used to perform any other task such as texting (including with the use of audio command), and social media.  

Of course, the use of mobile phones at all while driving at all is certainly not encouraged, with the current law holding the only safe way to use a mobile phone whilst driving is when you have safely pulled over, parked and have turned the engine off.  It is also important to note that using your phone while stopped at traffic lights is against the law, and will still land you with a fine, as the phone is still distracting you from a situation that could change at any given moment.

We have collected a list of tips which aim to both minimize the need to use your phone whilst driving, or deter you from using it if the temptation is too great: 

  • Put the phone silent
  • Turn it off completely
  • Put it in Airplane mode
  • Put phone in an out of reach place such as the glove box (some people have suggested putting in the boot!)
  • Try and do everything on the phone you need to do before you depart
  • Tell people to try and not contact you when you know you will be driving
  • Set up a playlist before you start so you aren’t constantly switching songs
  • Put the phone in a  sleeve so the touchscreen will be hard to use
  • Various apps exist to prevent distractions such as Road Mode for Android which offer functions such as blocking calls/messages whilst driving and then providing a summary of missed messages when the driver has finished the trip and Drive Safe for iPhone which sends emails to a nominated contact when a phone with the app installed is being used whilst driving.  
  • Plan breaks in your trip to use your phone
The driving force behind this trend continues to be the mounting pressure placed on us to always be online and available to respond to a message or text, and whilst admittedly this is a hard habit to break, we need to prioritize our safety.

A note to ACT provisional licence holders travelling interstate to NSW who have recently introduced laws preventing all provisional licence holders from using hands free mobile technology, you will still be able to use your mobile phone interstate, as long as you use it obeying the conditions of your ACT licence, as explained above.

As always, we are always happy to answer any questions you may or have a discussion about any of the topics discussed above, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!